"What are you expecting for Christmas?" I asked Unlucky Louie.

"My wife's relatives," he sighed, "plus more of the usual bad breaks in trumps."

Louie was today's declarer, expecting the worst. The defense took three diamonds, and East next led the jack of hearts. Louie won and led a trump to the ace -- and sure enough, East discarded.

Louie returned a club to his ace and led another trump: ten, queen. He ruffed a club, led a trump to the nine and ruffed dummy's last club; but then he had only hearts left. When he led one, West ruffed.

FRUITCAKE

"Maybe on Christmas Day I'd get a decent trump break," Louie moaned, "except then I'll be eating my mother-in-law's fruitcake, not playing bridge."

In case West has four trumps, Louie must cash the ace of clubs before leading the first trump to dummy. When East shows out, Louie ruffs a club, leads a trump to the ten and queen, and ruffs a club. He finesses with the nine of trumps, draws West's last trump and claims.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S None H J 10 9 8 4 D A K 6 C J 10 7 5 3. Your partner opens one heart, and the next player passes. What do you say?

ANSWER: With first-round control of two side suits, the hand is too slammish to jump to game. Partner couldn't visualize slam if he held a hand such as Q64, AK752, 85, A92. Count yourself correct if you chose any call except four hearts; three hearts (forcing), two clubs or a modern void-showing jump to three spades might work.

South dealer

Both sides vulnerable

NORTH

S A K Q 9

H 6 5 3

D Q 8 7

C Q 8 6

WEST

S J 10 3 2

H 7

D J 10 9 4

C K 9 4 2

EAST

S None

H J 10 9 8 4

D A K 6

C J 10 7 5 3

SOUTH

S 8 7 6 5 4

H A K Q 2

D 5 3 2

C A

South West North East

1 S Pass 3 S Pass

4 S All Pass

Opening lead -- D J